Marketing

Dead or alive? Print as a real estate marketing tool

Your print marketing ROI might be higher than you think

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We recently surveyed 340 real estate professionals about print marketing attitudes, including questions about where they spent their print dollars and where they would devote more money if they could.

Starting off with the big question, we asked respondents if they think print marketing is dead.

The good news is that they told us they believe print is still very much alive.

We also asked respondents if they thought they should spend money for more online marketing, or dedicate more spending to print. Respondents didn’t agree that they should move completely to online advertising. However, there aren’t strong sentiments either way. One reason may be that they don’t have accurate data on their return on investment from print marketing.

Referrals are still king

In the survey, agents indicated that they get most of their leads from referrals (60.8 percent), online marketing (21.7 percent) and print (13.2 percent). Referrals will probably always be at or near the top of the leads source list, but are the numbers accurate as to the mix between online and print? It’s an important question when making decisions about ad spending.

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Complicating the problem is the fact that 98.8 percent of the respondents tell us that they place their website domain on their print marketing pieces. Real estate professionals place website URLs on business cards, fliers, postcards and yard signs. But do they have a way to track a prospect coming from all of that print marketing? What is the online lead split between search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing and one of those thousands of print pieces distributed every year? Postcard mailing was third on the list below business cards and fliers, and 52 percent of the agents tell us that they would spend more on postcards if they had the funds.

So, what are they spending on print now?

  • 26.7 percent spend less than $500 per year.
  • 30 percent spend between $500 and $1,000 annually.
  • 31.7 percent spend between $1,000 and $5,000 annually.

That’s a lot of money spent on print every year. Millions of URLs are on print pieces, and it’s rare to find an advertiser who can provide any meaningful tracking to show traffic to the website from these pieces. Are they attributing website leads from calls to action and forms as online leads when they actually came from a postcard, business card, flier or other print marketing item?

Plugging the gap

Now that we know there’s an information gap, decisions about print-versus-online marketing spending could change if we can fill that gap. Print could be far more useful than we think, but we need to prove it with hard numbers. We must figure out how to count the number of website leads coming from print marketing recipients.

When customers receive that postcard and decide to visit your website to learn more about you or your services, they are officially print leads, not online leads. Surveys and studies have shown conclusively that more than 80 percent of people are going to real estate websites to learn more about the company or agent after they find out about them through other marketing. We need the website, forms and calls to action, but we also need to know how many leads they’re generating that originally came from print marketing.

Landing a lead

Agents continue to develop lead generation strategies on websites to capture the names and email addresses of visitors to convert them to prospects toward a transaction. Agents need to continue to do this, but there are some key tips for creating landing pages and URLs to track leads originating from print marketing.

Keeping URLs short and easy to type is the first strategy, as all of these people are arriving at your site because they saw the URL on a print piece and typed in the address. Whether you’re using yoursite.com/address for a listing postcard or yoursite.com/title to take them to a landing page explaining title insurance, you’re making it easy for them to type in the URL and not just sending them to your home page. When you’re spending hundreds of dollars on a postcard mailing, you may even want to buy a custom domain just for this marketing campaign, something like YourTownMLSReport.com or similar.

After purchasing the domain, you could send out a mailer about your services and offer an exclusive report of recently sold properties in that neighborhood. Create a landing page and forward that domain to the page — but only to that page. The page can include all of the information available on other pages on your site, but it should not be in the navigation structure, so the only way users can find it is by typing in the URL that they could get only from the print piece.

Consider the purpose of a mail campaign, and then create a landing page that answers questions or addresses the particular mailer. By checking your website statistics or analytics, you can see just how many visitors arrived at this page, and you can be pretty sure they all came from that mailing.

Using a call to action and form on the page, you can get a conversion rate for the page and know just how many real leads you got from that mail campaign.

Do these things — very inexpensive strategies — and you will probably begin to see a very different pattern in your lead generation statistics. You may find that you are getting a lot more business from print than you thought. Now you can make a marketing decision with more information under your hat.

Peyman Aleagha is CEO of WebsiteBox, a Toronto-based company that offers real estate websites and tools.